We at Weirwood put great pride in our ability to not only correctly plant trees but also educate the customer how to best provide care to make sure their tree has it’s best shot at surviving. During the consultation process we help the customer plan out the best possible locations for the tree(s) to avoid any complications years later.
Tree installation is a task many other companies lack the basic knowledge to get correct. More times than not a tree will get planted too deep or sustain heavy root damage. Installers also often fail to properly trim or remove matted and circling roots which can cause major plant health issues later in the trees life cycle.
Customers have many factors they need to considered when planting a tree. Not only the species but also the the location. Location might be one of the most important decisions to consider. It’s been our experience that other installers will not consider how big a tree will get, which often results in trees conflicting with other plants or structures on the customers property in later years(i.e. Power-lines, building foundations, fence, etc…) . Poor tree installation location has the potential to cost the owner a lot of money in later years depending on what it’s conflicting with. Worst case scenario the tree may have to be removed. We don’t want our customers to have to make those decisions so we are sure that the tree(s) are planted in the best possible locations.
The Hole and Root Ball
Once a suitable location is found the tree can be planted. The planting of the tree is just as important as finding a proper location. The hole for the tree should be measured from the the root flare to the bottom of the root ball for depth and 3 to 4 times wider. Before setting the tree in the hole be sure to remove any fabric. There may also be a metal basket that helps support roots for larger trees, although the basket can be planted with the tree we remove it just to avoid any unseen health issues to the tree. Next you’ll need to take a look at the exposed roots and trim or remove roots that are circular or that may overlap other roots.
Your now ready to set the tree in the hole. You might need a second pair of eyes to help get the tree straight. Once you’ve determined the tree is upright you can start back filling the hole. As your replacing the soil be sure to work in a circle around the tree. This ensures the soil is being evenly distributed under and around the root ball. While back filling it’s also important to be soaking the soil. Proper soil distribution and watering helps keep the tree in place after planting. Once all the soil has been replaced, you’ll want to soak the entire root ball area until the soil around the tree is no longer taking in anymore water. Your final step is to place mulch 2-4 inches deep in a 3-foot diameter around the base of the tree. Be sure no mulch is actually touching the tree.
Important: Do not use any fertilizers, chemicals or potting soils on newly planted trees! Organic root stimulator is acceptable when the products directions of use are followed exactly.
The next year the main focus is going to be your watering. You’ll want to water often enough that the mulch and soil is moist, not soggy. In dryer climates you should water generously every 7-10 days. Avoid watering so much that water sits on the surface of the soil and mulch and doesn’t soak in. It is possible to water too much. As long as your monitoring your soil every few days this shouldn’t be an issue.
Spotting a Poorly Planted Tree
To reiterate the importance, one of the most common mistakes that gets made is planting the tree to deep. Spotting a tree that’s planted too deep is pretty easy, it will look like a pencil stuck in the ground. All tree have a ‘root flare’ which is the part of the tree that widens as it meets the ground. Some signs that a tree has been planted too deep include girdling roots(roots that overlap or encircle other roots); leaves that are yellow and few in quantity; and dwarfed/slowed growth.
You have options to help a tree recover from being planted too deep! If the tree was planted within a 2 – 3 month period your best course of action would be to replant the tree. Older trees require a ‘root collar” which is the process of removing all of the excess soil from the base of the tree exposing the root flare.